WWOOFing it Up in Kiwiland: organic farming in New Zealand 2012

3 years later and life brings me back to New Zealand. This time for a longer period, for a different purpose, with a different outlook on life than last time. I hope what transpires from a few years of travelling as far and as wide as possible across this beautiful country is a basic but decent knowledge and experience in organic farming, self sustainable living, and food production. Come and join me, there's loads of room in the car.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Back to Familiar Territory: 'Family Violence' versus Domestic Abuse

There is no feminist movement in New Zealand. At least, not by my understanding within the anti-violence sector and in comparison to the UK. On Friday, at the end of my first week at Community Waitakere, I went to visit Debbie at WAVES: Waitakere Anti Violence Essential Services, and was shocked at the poor standard of non-profit and statutory support services available in a country that I've been impressed by so far. It's maybe a sign of the high standard of community development work I've seen all this week at Community Waitakere, an enivironmentally focussed community development project; very different from the violence prevention sector.

There are no 24 hour refuges for women and children with additional support needs, whose experiences of domestic abuse are complicated by subtance misuse/addiction, and/or mental health issues or any number of social factors. In fact, the District Health Boards screen women for domestic abuse but if there are additional support needs they are turned away; the state reaches out a helping hand only to take it away after having stirred up hope in the women who need it the most. The state does more damage than good with their empty promises. Every competent Community development worker knows meaningful interventions require long-term holistic approaches to social action.

Debbie then talked about the state's window dressing of the gender neutralising campaign material of the anti-violence strategy from what promoised to be a meaningful action towards challenging domestic abuse. The 'Te Rito' Family Violence Prevention Strategy produced by New Zealand's Ministry of Social Development in Feb 2002. She said that there is a backlash to feminists who mainly belong to the generation older than mine. 'Women are as violent as men' it says in this hand-out she says she is obliged to distribute in her job. The window-dressing happened 5 years ago she said, when the labour government were in power...

Every country has its strengths and weaknesses and that applies to the UK too. Just like people. Politicians who talk the talk and walk away when it comes to action let us down every day in the UK and in NZ. She works with WAVES to train agencies about domestic abuse (DA) and tells me that while referrals to DA services are normal procedure, unlike the UK, there is little partnership working between network agencies and absolutely no attempt by agencies to meet the needs of DA survivors within services. I didn't want to tell her the truth about agencies I visit who have no concept of the spectrum of DA or its impact on survivors because she thinks that we, in the UK, are waaaay ahead of NZ...

She talked about a mental health organisation who got defensive about a DVD they produced called ''he drove me mad' as they took it as a criticism on their lackings. There's a vitally important website it supports women surivivors through also. I have a copy of the DVD to take home to Edinburgh Women's Aid and a copy of another extremely interesting research from the Leitner Centre for International Law and Justice looking at domestic abuse across NZ in the context of international human rights: "It's Not OK: New Zealand's Efforts to Eliminate Violence Against Women".

Debbie also brought my attention to the the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse 'the national centre for collating and disseminating information about domestic and family violence in Aotearoa New Zealand'. An amazing resource. I wonder if we have the same thing for Scotland/UK? I was thinking after I left that I forgot to bring leaflets from my work at Edinburgh Women's Aid and that it's a shame because I've come so far and it adds a little something to to a first-time tran-global meeting of like-minded people....I'll remember for next time.

I was blown away by Debbie's kindness and the common interest and experience we have that made us get on instantly. She's agreed to request invitations for me to see a refuge and visit DA agencies via their boards and I hope to go out to do this in the next few weeks, however she said it probably won't be worth trying to organise a visit to a Maori refuge.

So back to familiar territory and it reminded me of what I left behind in Edinburgh and what I'll be going back to in 6 weeks. This week has flown by....

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